New Tool Helps Bring Proven Health Programs to More Older Americans
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New Tool Helps Bring Proven Health Programs to More Older Americans


March 16, 2011

Ken Schwartz

Online Assessment Speeds Adoption of Programs for Falls Management, Depression, and More

Washington, D.C. - The National Council on Aging (NCOA) has developed a web-based tool that can help identify organizations around the country that have the potential to successfully implement programs that have been proven to enhance the health of older Americans. 

Under a grant from the Retirement Research Foundation, NCOA developed customized versions of the tool, called the Innovation Readiness Assessment, for programs addressing two critical health issues for older Americans—falls and depression.

“There are numerous programs that provide significant, proven health benefits for older adults,” said Tom Endres, vice president for Civic Engagement at NCOA. “But too often, they aren’t disseminated widely enough to reach the older adults who need them. This tool will help get evidence-based health promotion programs for older adults into as many communities as possible.” 

The Innovation Readiness Assessment is available online. Organizations go to a unique URL, complete an assessment, and receive a real-time electronic report of their “readiness” to offer the health program. Readiness is defined as the organization’s capacity and willingness to successfully implement the program for older adults in their community. The tool addresses specific requirements for success and provides an overall score and suggestions on how to improve. 

Several community-based organizations have used the tool successfully to gauge their readiness to adopt programs that help seniors manage fear of falling and depression—two health issues that can have a significant impact on older adults’ quality of life and independence.

MaineHealth's Partnership for Healthy Aging is using the Innovation Readiness Assessment to spread the use of A Matter of Balance Volunteer Lay Leader, a volunteer-led, evidence-based workshop that helps older adults reduce their fear of falling and increase activity levels. Each year, more than a third of adults aged 65+ experiences a fall. Falls can lead to more serious health problems, loss of independence, and isolation.

Houston-based Care for Elders is using the Innovation Readiness Assessment to help disseminate Healthy IDEAS (Identifying Depression, Empowering Activities for Seniors), an evidence-based case management program that helps older adults increase their awareness of and manage their depression. Nearly one in five older adults experiences depressive symptoms, taking an enormous toll on quality of life and ability to function.

Organizations interested in learning how the Innovation Readiness Assessment tool can be customized for their programs can contact or

For more information on the tool, please visit:

For more information on Healthy IDEAS, please visit:

For more information on Matter of Balance/Volunteer Lay Leader Model, please visit:


About NCOA  The National Council on Aging (NCOA) is the nation’s leading nonprofit service and advocacy organization representing older adults and the community organizations that serve them. Our goal is to improve the health, independence, and economic security of 10 million older adults by 2020. For more than 60 years, NCOA has been a trusted voice and innovative problem-solver helping seniors navigate the challenges of aging in America. We work with local and national partners to give older adults tools and information to stay healthy and secure, and we advocate for programs and policies to improve the lives of all seniors, especially the most vulnerable. For more information, please visit

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